John Glenn’s first three orbits around the earth were described later as “national catharsis unparalleled. It seemed that he had given Americans back their self-respect, and more than that—it seemed Americans dared again to hope.” He became, and stayed, a household name.
Yet, Glenn’s status as a new hero thwarted him from returning to space for decades. President Kennedy thought him too valuable as a hero to risk losing him in an accident.
Finally, 36 years later as a U.S. senator, Glenn was granted his wish to return to orbit, and at age 77 he became the oldest person to fly into space.
Bottom line: Even true leaders sometimes have their dreams deferred. The key is staying in the game so that your dream deferred does not become a dream denied.
— Adapted from “John Glenn, American Hero of the Space Age, Dies at 95,” John Noble Wilford, The New York Times.